Being Uncomfortable Is Advising You – Time for a Change
Change can be hard and scary and uncomfortable – it’s supposed to be.
Until just a few years ago, I was the type of person that thrived on order and routine – a rigid rule follower – an inside the box kind of girl. Then, change came into my life – uninvited change – the kind you don’t see coming.
When uninvited change, like loss of loved one or relationship or job, crashes into your world, it doesn’t just barge through the front door unannounced, it takes the whole house down. Order goes out the window. There’s no time to process because instant action, reaction and forward motion are required for survival. Survival mode is ruthless. Time is measured by the minute, not the hour or day because you get by literally one minute at a time. It is in this state of survival that we create mechanisms for adaptation to what was no longer and take control of what is right here, right now. We rally strength we did not know existed – and we rebuild, one piece at a time. We develop a new toolkit of skills for life ahead.
Let’s talk for a minute about the other kind of change. The kind we stare directly in the eyes and invite into our lives.
I talked to someone recently who opened the door to change. Kelly is a marketing professional who recently accepted a new position. When I asked Kelly, what change meant to her, she said, “Change is uncomfortable. The more uncomfortable the change, the bigger the reward. I’ve found it’s when you step outside of your comfort zone, that you grow the most. “I really admire Kelly’s determination, she didn’t want her skills to atrophy in the role she was in and decided to take charge of her career. That change will have an impact on her commute and the daily routine in her household, but she knows the long-term payoff will be the best for herself and her family.
Ironically, I met Kelly when I was inviting change into my life. I was feeling stagnant in my career and needed to do something about it. I knew that I needed to connect with other professionals in my field, and expand skills outside of my day to day role. One of those skills was networking. It wasn’t something I was confident in at the time, but I knew it was essential for any type of career growth. I started volunteering for a local professional organization that happened to host networking events. Walking down the hallway to my first event felt like walking to the edge of the high dive, but I took a deep breath and I jumped in. That jump changed my life in so many positive ways.
Much like Kelly, I realized that stepping outside of my comfort zone yielded amazing, rewarding change.
Interestingly, there’s science to this. I came upon a Tedx talk, “Why Comfort Will Ruin your life”, by Bill Eckstrom. Bill introduces “the four growth rings”:
Stagnation – a low growth environment that stifles creativity, independent thought, or action
Order – knowing what you do will lead to a predictable outcome, thus bringing you comfort
Complexity – changing up order, yielding unpredictable outcomes, causing discomfort. This discomfort can lead to sustained and exponential growth.
Chaos – the last ring, being in a state of zero to no control of inputs or outputs – almost no growth or development happens in this state of turmoil.
In short Bill explains that “Order can limit the way we think and act. What makes you comfortable can ruin you.”
Being a routine focused, order loving kind of girl, I can completely relate to this. It wasn’t until uninvited change came into my life that I realized how much I had been living in Order. I was essentially standing still in my career. By sticking to the predictable routine I created, I was closed off to meeting new people, experiencing new things, and being open to new opportunities.
Bill goes on to express, “Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort. Discomfort occurs when we move from Order – creating predictable outcomes, to Complexity – changing up order.”
Bill outlines three Complexity triggers:
Forced Order – like the “uninvited change” I mentioned earlier
Someone can help you get there – parents, teachers, coaches, bosses – people who push you into complexity to help you grow
Trigger it yourself – creating change and growth – like Kelly is doing
“Unpredictability makes you uncomfortable.” – Bill Eckstrom
If you are looking to make a change and the mere thought of being uncomfortable makes you cringe, it’s ok to start slowly. You don’t have to jump off the high dive right away. Find one thing you can change up in your daily routine. Instead of grabbing for the TV remote when you have a few minutes of downtime, grab a book instead, or sit outside for a few minutes and enjoy the fresh air, or try to find a quiet room in the house. Take those few moments to yourself.
Don’t think about work, or the pile of laundry that needs to be done. Take a few deep breaths, and visualize a calming scene in your mind. Focus only on that.
Even if you only have a few moments each day to break from routine, do something different, or have some quiet time. It can be the first step toward creating amazing, wonderful, change in your life.